Casinos in Cripple Creek, Colorado (l.) reopened early last week. Casinos in Black Hawk and Central City, the two other mountain towns that allow gaming, also reopened. After a shutdown that lasted more than three months, one marketing director exclaimed, “Our city is alive again.”
Across the U.S., sports betting is a hot topic among lawmakers, as states seek new sources of income in the wake of Covid-19. GGB News asked three celebrated oddsmakers—Roxy Roxborough, John English and Vic Salerno (l. to r.)—to forecast what’s next for the industry.
In a post-Covid world, with more states looking to legal sports betting for jobs and revenue, the American Gaming Association has launched a campaign to educate mainstream media about offshore sportsbooks. AGA President Bill Miller (l.) told GGB that careless reporting has given illegal operators “the patina of credibility.”
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and ad agency R&R Partners are back doing what they do best, marketing the gambling mecca’s nonstop allure. But there’s a vital new twist to their work in these strange, uncertain times.
The three Gila River casinos, including the Lone Butte casino (l.), in Arizona shut down late last week when a security guard died of Covid-19. The casinos had just instituted a mask requirement for all visitors but said they would re-evaluate their health protocols after closing for 14 days. There was no indication whether other Gila River casino employees have been diagnosed with Covid.
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Business has been better than anticipated at Nevada casinos, which reopened June 4 at half-capacity. But high rollers are largely absent, and conventioneers are nowhere in sight. Locals casinos seem to be doing very well, and tribal casinos are also welcoming large crowds.
California Senator Bill Dodd (l.) has offered amendments to his bill, SCA 6, which would legalize sports betting but also give sweeteners to card clubs. His amendments don’t go far enough, say tribes who oppose the bill. But hearings on the bill have been postponed and may not be held until next fall.
Resorts World Genting (l.) in Genting Highlands, Malaysia reopened last Friday. With international borders still closed, Nomura Group predicted that locals would flock to the gaming venue.
Casinos in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and elsewhere are continuing to reopen, all under similar but location-specific guidelines for patron and employee safety. Some properties are advancing into new, less restricted phases of their reopening plans.
Italy, once the hotbed of Covid-19 infections in Europe, closed all betting shops, gaming arcades and bingo halls on March 10. Last week, retail outlets, including those operated by SKS365 (l.), began to reopen with stringent health and safety measures in place.
Illinois has issued seven master sports wagering licenses to seven casinos, with Rivers Des Plaines (l.) among them, which also launched the first mobile sports app last week. But before bettors can wager, casinos have to be approved to take bets online or through mobile applications. The licensees will pay up to $10 million each.
More than half of U.S. gaming tribes refused to abide by executive orders from governors on reopening their casinos after the Covid-19 shutdown. Some also disregarded orders banning group gatherings. Visitors to Foxwoods (l.) and Mohegan Sun encountered state road signs asking them not to “gamble” with their health.
Atlantic City’s casinos took a long-term hit when Governor Phil Murphy ordered them to close in March. In turn, the loss of revenues from gaming and other tourism took a bite out of state agencies like the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and the Casino Revenue Fund. But a bill that would offer Atlantic City casinos some relief from taxes and fees is getting closer to passage.
Is this phrase that’s so ubiquitous in the casino industry still appropriate? Does it smack of the “systematic” issues that people are complaining about today? Gaming observer Richard Schuetz suggests maybe “heart of the house” would be more empathic, because words really do matter.
The U.S casino industry is still alive, and maybe even kicking, with customers around the country flocking to properties as they reopen. But it’s still much too early to tell how long it will be before this patient is up and running.
This week the GGB Podcast features a discussion with Sara Slane, the founder of Slane Advisory, on how sports betting has evolved since she helped defeat the PAPSA law in her role with the American Gaming Association at the time.
Based on concerns about the coronavirus, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has extended the shutdown of casinos in the country until June 30. The hub of gaming in the country is Manila, home of Melco’s City of Dreams (l.) in Entertainment City.
The Chinese government is calling for renewed efforts to stem the illegal flow of monies for gambling. A report in state news agency Xinhua characterized it as a “major political mission”; President Xi Jinping (l.) has identified capital flight as a serious problem.
Marina Square Properties Inc., a unit of Hong Kong-listed International Entertainment Corp., has announced it will apply for a provisional gaming license to develop an integrated resort in Manila. A possible location is the company’s New Coast Hotel Manila (l.).
Wynn Macau is raising US$750 million in new debt while it waits for an easing of the Covid-related travel restrictions that have battered the Chinese casino hub. In April and May alone, the company’s three properties suffered combined EBITDA losses of $244 million.
U.K. authorities believe the decrease in stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals led to a decrease in the number of calls by bookmakers to police involving rowdy gamblers. The figures dropped 38 percent. The Gambling Commission said other factors were also at play.
Melco Resorts has reopened three satellite casinos in Cyprus. C2 Ayia Napa, C2 Nicosia and C2 Paphos and C2 Limassol opened last week, along with C2 Limassol, a temporary gaming hall. A permanent casino, City of Dreams Mediterranean (l.), is now in development on the island.
Starting in July, Sweden’s regulated gaming market will operate under increased restrictions including new deposit limits, despite protests from the industry. Health Minister Ardalan Shekarabi (l.) said the measures are meant to “strengthen the protection of Swedish consumers.”
Greek gaming operator OPAP SA was looking at double-digit declines in the first quarter due to the closure of its retail businesses in Greece and Cyprus. Those shops started reopening in mid-May following the coronavirus outbreak.
Latvia’s gambling ban ended June 9. Land-based gaming was first suspended March 22, followed by online ban on April 6. “Latvia is back,” said George Ustinov (l.), CEO of gaming company Enlabs.
The top four U.K. sportsbooks have pledged £100 million to aid problem gambling issues like treatment and counseling. Flutter Entertainment, GVC Holdings, bet365 and William Hill will send their donations to GambleAware.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews (l.) has announced the relaxing of coronavirus restrictions in the Australian state, allowing patrons back to pubs, clubs and pokie venues.
The gaming industry shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic has had one bright spot—a boom in internet gaming in states like Pennsylvania, where iGaming revenues have doubled, according to the state Gaming Control Board.
Tsogo Sun Gaming of South Africa reported losses of about ZAR400m (US$23.9 million) in revenues in the most recent fiscal year due to the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. As a result, the firm is looking beyond land-based to online operations.
Unikrn has partnered with BitPay to extend accessibility and improve the Unikrn crypto platform, used for sports betting and online casino games. Rahul Sood (l.), Unikrn co-founder, says the deal will help to make crypto a part of everyday life.
Live roulette producer Authentic Gaming has reached an agreement with 888 to provide its full suite of games, including its flagship, Blaze Roulette (l.), in regulated markets around the world.
UK.’s All-Party Parliamentary Group has published a report on iGaming problems and solutions. It recommended controls including prohibiting advertising and barring some in-play bets. MP Carolyn Harris (l.) said the gaming industry’s “primary goal is profit.”
BetConstruct has leveled up bonusing strategies for its partners by introducing a new player-facing cashback cashout feature. The bonus incentive is designed to attract high rollers.
Ohio lawmakers are confident they can reach a compromise on sports betting. The House wants the lottery commission to regulate the industry. The Senate feels the Casino Control Commission should get the nod. Either way, says Rep. Dave Greenspan (l.), sports betting could raise about $50 million in taxes the second year.
Georgia lawmakers are expected to take up sports betting in the current session; according to Chris Clark (l.), of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, “With the state’s resources down 10 percent, here’s a pot of money that could help.” Two bills are circulating, one with support from the major leagues.
Three firms have submitted paperwork for a license to provide online and mobile sports betting in Tennessee. The companies must complete the applications and pay the $750,000 licensing fee to start the approval process. The Tennessee Education Lottery has 90 days to choose a licensee.
The Denver Broncos and FanDuel agreed to a partnership last week, the first of its kind in the NFL. The deal won’t be the last as NFL teams in states with sportsbooks see advantages. The move comes just as the promise of sports resumption plays out in the coming months.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s compacts with two tribes paved the way for sports betting in the state. While the U.S. Department of Interior did not reject the agreement, the two legislative houses and Attorney General Mike Hunter insist the compact violates state law.
The Canadian government has yet to approve single-game sports bets despite efforts in the last couple years by lawmakers. This time around, supporters enlisted the assistance of major professional sports leagues. It is hoped the leagues’ push will propel the legislature to act favorably.
German bookmakers have enjoyed a boost in business since the return of the Bundesliga after an eight-week suspension. One sportsbook reported a 100 percent increase in business.
After two Premier League players got caught breaching betting rules regarding transfers, Betway decided not to publish football player transfers in the future.
In the space of 24 hours, Irish betting shops reopened and closed back down after receiving erroneous info.
Eldorado Resorts' $17.3 billion acquisition of Caesars Entertainment is advancing, but probably won't be completed until late June or July. The deal still needs approval from Indiana, Nevada, New Jersey and the Federal Trade Commission.
Nevada is now requiring players at casino table games to wear face masks. The move is in response to customers who are ignoring safety guidelines in large numbers as they pour into the state’s recently reopened casinos.
Florida is known for its large population of senior citizens. Now it’s becoming known for a large population of seniors who won’t let Covid-19 get in the way of having a good time at casinos like the Big Easy (l.) in Hallandale Beach.
The American Gaming Association is urging the modernization of casino payment processes with the option of digital payments. AGA President Bill Miller, while urging cashless payments as a Covid-19 safety measure, said the body was working on the issue long before the viral outbreak.
Well-known porn king and card club owner Larry Flynt (l.) has won a legal skirmish in his long-running war with the state of California. Flynt wants to be able to own casinos in more than one state, which is forbidden by California law.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled that cellphone-charging kiosks (l.) that include video games that can be played for winnings are illegal gambling machines.
The state of Michigan and local governments lost about $100 million in tax revenue between March 15 and June 15 due to casino closures, including Detroit’s Greetown casino (l.), over Covid-19. One bright spot is the potential of sports betting, which launched March 11 and shut down a few days later.
The Biloxi city council announced a $1.2 billion casino resort will be developed at the 266-acre former Biloxi Broadwater Resort property, vacant since Hurricane Katrina. The venue will feature a 125,000-square-foot casino. It is projected to be complete in 2023.
Delaware Park in Wilmington, Delaware last week reopened its racetrack for the 83rd season of racing—with spectators. Fans are allowed in to watch the races provided they keep social distancing requirements in place.
Lake Charles is the last major city in Louisiana to allow smoking in casinos. It adheres to the Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act, but casinos and bars are exempt. City officials said they are "open to discussing" the subject.
The NFL Pro Bowl will be played January 31, 2021 at the Las Vegas Raiders’ new Allegiant Stadium (l.). The league also has selected the city to host its 2022 draft.
In March, the pandemic brought work on the Drew Las Vegas (l.) to a halt—before developers could land a critical construction loan. Now, a contractors including the project’s lead builders and principal architect, are demanding to be paid.
The Fremont Street resort Circa, Downtown Las Vegas’ first ground-up casino hotel in decades, plans to open October 28 with a two-story gaming facility, a sportsbook, a live entertainment venue and an array of restaurants and bars. Its 777 rooms and suites will follow in December.
The Williamson County Board in southern Illinois has unanimously approved a plan to develop the Walker’s Bluff Casino and Resort. The new 500 Nations development is expected to break ground in the fall.
A U.S. District judge has ordered that payments must go forward in the disbursement of CARES Act funding intended for tribes. Some tribes had challenged the U.S. Treasury’s formula for determining how much each tribe should be paid.
The U.S. Interior Department recently approved the Wyandotte Nation's application for trust land in Park City, Kansas. Local officials are concerned a tribal casino there would cannibalize revenue from the state-owned Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane.
Full House Resorts has named Carl Braunlich, an associate professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas hospitality school, as the company’s new board chairman.
Laurie South (l.) has joined Jamul Casino in San Diego County, California as its new vice president of human resources. South has more than two decades of experience leading human resources divisions, primarily for tribal casinos throughout the West Coast.
Tsogo Sun has appointed Annelize Hoyer (l.) as the company’s chief financial officer, effective August 1. Hoyer has more than 10 years of experience in the casino industry and will play a “vital role” in helping the business recover from Covid-19.
Mississippi’s only tribal casino gaming enterprise has launched Konami Gaming’s award-winning Synkros casino management system. The CMS has been installed at Pearl River Resort’s Bok Homa Casino (l.) in Sandersville.
Malaysian gaming machine company RGB International Bhd, which temporarily suspended operations due to the Covid-129 pandemic, is now developing social distancing products for gaming firms.
The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, owner of two casinos including the Cimarron (l.) in Perkins, has launched BetConstruct’s Mobile Social Casino System, the partners announced last week. The agreement also gives BetConstruct the option to supply sports wagering to the tribe when it comes to the state.
Gaming and hospitality firm Raving has developed a custom solution to integrate software platforms. Raving Engineering, which can be built and customized is as little as 90 days, is now in use at the Ocean Casino Resort (l.) in Atlantic City.
The Strategy Organization and Fantini Research have joined forces to produce four position papers entitled: “Moving On: What Gaming Operators and Investors Should Focus on After the Doors Open.”
Small Nuggets of News
Outrageous pronouncements, simple statements and words of wisdom.